25 (Specifically) Catholic Marriage Tips
Fr. Wade L. J. Menezes, CPM
Fathers of Mercy
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1638: “From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament.” (Code of Canon Law, 1134)
CCC 1661: The Sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and [His Bride] the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved His Church; the grace of the Sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (Cf., Council of Trent: DS 1799).
- Always put God first in your marriage. He created you both. He made you both to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life, so as to be forever happy with Him in the next.
- Never underestimate the power of the Sacraments, especially weekly Eucharist and monthly Confession. Enough said. Period.
- Never underestimate the power of prayer – especially the daily Rosary and daily Divine Mercy Chaplet – whether prayed individually, or as spouses, or as a family. Enough said. Period.
- Become familiar with the lives of the great Saints of the Catholic Church who were husbands and wives. Make their lives part of your spiritual reading. Learn from them. Strive to be like them. After all, you share the same vocation they had. These Saints lived in the modern world of their time, just as you live in the modern world of your time. If they grew in sanctity then, you can grow in sanctity now. If they did it, you can do it.
- Husbands: Lead, protect, and provide for your wife and children. And let your wife help you. Wives: Comfort, nurture, and guide for your husband and children. And let your husband help you. The particular gifts found within the masculine genius and the feminine genius are rooted in human nature. They grow and blossom when shared – especially within marriage and family life, the nucleus of society (Cf., CCC 2207).
- Be forgiving of each other’s wrongs and failures. Remember: “A perfect marriage is an imperfect husband and an imperfect wife who absolutely refuse to give up on one another.”
- Recognize that marriage, by its very nature, has its ups and downs – so don’t be shocked by the “downs” when they happen. In fact, every vocation and state-in-life has its ups and downs (singlehood, widowhood, consecrated life, priesthood). Accept this as a fact of life. Own it. Face the trials when they come. And face them together.
- Keep a sense of humor. Laugh a lot – at yourself and with each other and with your kids.
- Be intentional about forming an “Us” as opposed to only focusing on “Me”. Be other-centered instead of self-centered.
- Think and act like a team. Play to win; there’s no pride in this. Be disciplined.
- Learn to compromise with each other; that is, bend your wills and lean into one another’s interests and preferences. Give to receive. And receive to give.
- Continually show your kids (regardless of their ages) an authentic, firm, and united front in two major areas of life: faith and morals. Your kids need to know that they cannot wedge anything between Dad and Mom when it comes to these two areas. Remain solid as a rock in this. Your kids need to know that they “cannot pit Mom against Dad, nor pit Dad against Mom.” It’s impossible. Also, as much as you love your kids, do not put them first before your spouse. Your kids will actually appreciate that you did this as they grow to be young adults.
- Deal with conflict well (marital or otherwise), avoiding such things as criticism, holding grudges, and spousal backbiting and gossip.
- Be cheerful when your spouse comes home from work – and genuinely so.
- Appreciate each other’s work and show interest in it (whether it’s employment or domestic work or hobby related).
- Be solicitous about your finances and overall financial situation. Know precisely where you stand financially as a couple and as a family. Marital stress can easily stem from unstable finances.
- Give outside yourselves; that is, know what you can do as a couple for charitable giving, whether through your time, talent, or treasure.
- Be able to tell each other how you feel – daily – whether things are going well or not so well. Don’t keep things bound up inside.
- Invite your spouse to be your accountability partner in everyday affairs, sharing even temptations that you may encounter. The devil will hate this. Good. Let him hate it. Dispel the darkness and let the light of Christ shine within and through your marriage. For example, share unified passwords and passcodes when using computers, smart devices, and when accessing social media platforms.
- Take care of yourself physically. Show your spouse that you love them and yourself precisely by taking good care of yourself. Your eating right, exercising, practicing good hygiene, and other healthy lifestyle habits become gifts that you give to your spouse. Do not have the attitude, “Now that we’re married, I don’t need to impress them anymore.” Such an attitude is destructive to both spouses.
- Pay attention to and have great communication in marital sexuality. Your marital covenant should lead you to be other-centered toward your spouse and not self-centered in the area of sexuality. Husbands, understand the importance of your initiating both intimacy and affection with your wives. These must be genuine and not serve selfish motives. A husband should (and needs to) plan a “date night” with his wife and remember that he must continually pursue his wife’s heart. Initiating the romance is important as men, especially since the sacramental-conjugal embrace continually pours strength into the couple. Wives, be receptive and trusting of your husbands in this regard. Assume the best about his intentions. It is vitally important that husbands and wives know each other’s love languages; otherwise, they risk being misfired for many years if not learned early on.
- Remain diligent to the overall spiritual dimension of your marriage; that is, with regular prayer, practicing the Sacraments, making spousal visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration), and maintaining a well-balanced and grounded spiritual life. Remember: The main purpose of a Sacramental Marriage is to help get each other into Heaven.
- Remain diligent to the overall temporal dimension of your marriage; that is, with home and family life, work and friendships.
- Seek out a strong human support base that is comprised of family members, friends, and coworkers whom you can trust with the same Christian worldview as you.
- Reinforce your mutual fondness and admiration for each another by carrying out certain niceties on a regular basis (e.g., a surprise note in his briefcase; flowers delivered to her “just because…”, etc.).
CCC 1641: “By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God” (Lumen Gentium 11.2). This grace proper to the Sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” (Lumen Gentium 11.2; Cf., Lumen Gentium 41).